What Is A Futures Bet?

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What Is A Futures Bet?
Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports


Futures bets are any bet that is decided over the course of more than one game, event, or match. Usually, the term “futures bet” also suggests that a bet that will be resolved in the distant future or over a significant amount of time.

For example, betting on the Green Bay Packers to beat the point spread against the Dallas Cowboys in their NFL game next week would be a short-term bet.

However, betting on the Green Bay Packers to be the next Super Bowl winner would be a futures bet. This is because the Super Bowl is the final game of the NFL’s regular season and so it takes all season to resolve the bet.

It is worth noting that futures odds change over time so picking when you place futures bets makes a big difference to the odds you get. The earlier you bet, the longer odds you are likely to get. The later you place the bet, the more information you have, but the lower the odds are likely to be.

For example, if you place a wager on the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl in 2023 you’d get current futures odds of about +3,500 from BetMGM in June 2022 with the entire season still to go. Having so many teams in play and so many games to go will result in much better odds than nearer the date of the Super Bowl when there are fewer teams and fewer games to go.

If the New England Patriots make it to the playoffs those odds are likely to drop precipitously and you may only get futures odds of +2,300 on the same Super Bowl bet.

You can also make prop bets that take your wager beyond just betting on your team winning.

Prop bets can be things like like how many three-pointers Zack LaVine is going to make before the NBA finals, how many yards Tom Brady will pass in a season, or the number of overtime minutes during March Madness.

A more casual use of the term “futures bets” can often just mean a bet that has been placed well ahead of the event.

However, when dealing with retail or online sportsbooks, be sure to use the term in the formal sense. This will avoid any confusion.

On What Sports Can I Make A Futures Bet?

Most sports allow for futures betting of some kind.

Futures bets on soccer, golf, football, basketball, and hockey dominate the U.S. futures betting market. Within these sports people place futures bets on everything from major events to small tournaments, leagues, and series.

Big horse racing meets like the Kentucky Derby also offer opportunities for futures betting across various events. So too with any sport with long seasons.

Motorsports, grand slam events on the tennis calendar, and even things like the Chess World Championship candidates series all offer a wager on a player or team winning the title game.

If the online sportsbooks aren’t offering sports bettors the futures bet they are looking for, then sports bettors can always contact customer service and see if the site will create the futures markets to wager on.

NFL Futures

Football is the biggest game for futures bets in the U.S. We’ve talked a fair bit about the Super Bowl already, the NFL championship game.

The most basic NFL futures bet in this context take the general form “futures bet on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl.”

However, there are plenty of other angles you can take. You can bet on smaller units like the AFC championship, or on how many games your favorite team will win before the playoffs.

You don’t have to bet on a team being the eventual champion of the NFL season, you can also make prop bets on players like how many yards Tom Brady will pass over the course of the entire season.

Football offers plenty of other other major sports leagues to bet on too. The College Football playoff and Canadian Football League are two of the biggest.

NBA Futures

The NBA offers a similar range of bets to the NFL.

There are short-term bets like picking between two teams each game or you can make a futures bet on your the favorite team to win the NBA finals.

There are also prop bets on offer. For example, how many games your favorite team wins before getting knocked out or the total number of thee pointers scored in the season or which two teams will make it to the NBA championship game.

Basketball also offers a huge range of money line, point spread, and futures bets whenever the March Madness of the NCAA tournament comes around.

MLB Futures

The most common futures bets of the MLB season are those placed on who will win the World Series. At the time of writing, the favorite for the 2023 World Series is the L.A. Dodgers at odds of just +35.

But sports betting isn’t just about the math of figuring out the implied probabilities and odds for a profitable bet, but if the mathematical nitty-gritty is in a group of sports bettors’ wheelhouse, then baseball futures betting is for them.

As a sport the MLB offers a huge range of mathematical metrics to build bet odds around.

Baseball has so many chances for futures betting. Futures markets exist across the regular season. And they range from a bet on a given player’s batting average to the number of hotdogs sold over the course of an entire season.

NHL Futures

The NHL — with its rough play, long seasons, and fast action — offers plenty of futures bets.

Common futures bets often involve online sportsbooks setting odds to win for individual conferences.

As a result, the NHL has some of the breadth of a sports like college football or European soccer leagues, where there are many mini-future bets to be had before the major championships wrap up.

This allows sports bettors to go beyond the money line on who will lift the Stanley Cup.

Futures Betting In Other Sports

The World Series of UK soccer is the Premier League trophy, though curious or enthusiastic soccer fans will find no end of chances to dig up futures. The most popular of these is the bet on top goal scorer (at the time of writing the favorite is Erling Haaland at +274.

However, soccer fans can find futures bets that range in scale from the FIFA World Cup. The World Cup is held once every four years, giving you a chance to get your bet in very early. Plus there are dozens of regional, national, and local leagues across the planet.

Motor sports offer several long seasons — Formulas 1 to 3 in Europe and NASCAR at home. Even more obscure sports like sailing, darts, and esports will often have futures bets available for their major series.

How Are Futures Odds Calculated?

The odds on a futures bet will be set by the sportsbook based on a few factors. Usually these factors are one or more of the following: the vig, the amount of money the market has bet on each proposition, the bookies’s own estimates of a team’s odds to win, and promotional deals.

The “vig,” short for “vigorish,” is the term for a sportsbook’s cut. This can be taken either as a percentage of each bet or, more commonly, by adjusting the odds to ensure a small mathematical edge for the bookies’s side of the bet.

The odds will usually be listed in American odds on American sites.

American odds are written as a three-digit number with either a plus or minus sign. A plus sign indicates odds longer than 50-50 (a 50-50 bet is written as +100). Positive odds indicate the amount of profit you would make on a $100 bet. A minus sign indicates odds shorts than 50-5o and describe how much you would have to bet to win $100.

Lets go back to the Super Bowl for an example to clarify what we mean here. At the time of writing, William Hill is offer odds to win of -175 on “Tom Brady Over 4,999 Passing Yards In 2022 Regular Season.” This means we win when Brady makes more than 4,999 passing yards.

The minus sign in -175 means that if we want to win $100 profit, then we must bet $175. Odds of -175 convert to 4/7 in fractional odds or 1.57 in decimal odds and indicate an implied probability of 63.7%.

At these odds to win, a $1,000 bet on “Tom Brady Over 4,999 Passing Yards In 2022 Regular Season” will therefore earn us a $570 in profit if we win. Or cost us $1,000 if we lose.

Some bookies will also offer a push if he makes exactly 4,999. A “push” signifies a draw between bettor and bookie and means we get our original bet back. In this case, William Hill is not offering a push, so we will lose when Brady comes in at or below 4,999 for the season.

The odds on the under are +213. If we took that for $1,000 we would stand to make a profit of $2,130 plus our $1,000 back if we won.

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Futures Bets FAQ


What does “futures” mean in futures bet?

The word “futures” indicates that the bet involves a long-term proposition. More specifically, it refers to bets that will require more than one match, game, or event to decide.

Usually these bets are on the scale of tournaments, seasons, or years.

Where can I find futures bets?

Most online and retail sportsbooks offer futures bets of one sort or another. Especially on popular futures bets like college football.

However, they will not always be labeled as such. You may need to click into a specific event to find a list of futures bets on offer.

If you cannot find the futures bet you are looking for, you can always contact the sportsbook and request that they open a market for that bet.

Are futures bets good bets?

Future bets have some advantages over other bets, but whether they are the best option depends greatly on the specific bet you are assessing, the implied probability of the wager, the betting odds, and your own personal taste for risk.

The market for futures is smaller than that for a match wager which tends to result odds changing more easily. This creates opportunities to find good deals.

Futures betting also usually offers longer odds than comparable short-term bets which means potential payouts are often much higher. Against this sports bettors must weight higher variance and higher risks.

There is no such thing as a guaranteed profit.

What are player futures bets?

Player futures bets include any futures betting that is done on a player’s performance.

This could be specific stats like a baseball player’s batting average or a bet on who will win MVP or Rookie of the Year.

Bookies from Macau to Las Vegas offer odds to win on any number of player futures betting.

What are team futures bets?

What are team FUTURES bets?

We can contrast team futures bets with player futures bets.

A team futures bet is futures betting on the long term performance of a team.

For example, futures betting on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl or on how many other teams Manchester United will beat in the Premier League.